The Class of 2027 has some impressive young talent that have already made an impact on their varsity teams in the early portion of the season, as well as the Fall preseason events held in September and early October. Although there are some prospects with very bright futures, I do not see the depth in this class compared to the insanely deep class of 2026 (current sophomores), which is arguably the deepest class of next level prospects since the 2021 class. Nevertheless, some of the top players in this first round of 2027 player rankings have already participated in some of the nation’s premier middle school events and circuits, which has prepared players like Cobi Posas and Jeremias Killebrew to be impact guys that are in their team’s respective starting lineup. I have seen all of the players on this initial list play in person but I acknowledge that I am likely missing some key freshman players from the Central Section.
The individual showcases and team events throughout the end of the Summer and the Fall have provided countless platforms for players from the 2027 Class to showcase their skills and capabilities. The Central Cali Prospects 3rd Annual Next Up Showcase, Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp, and the Clovis West Fall Showcase are some of the key events that have allowed me ample opportunities to evaluate and observe the play of a majority of the top freshmen in the Central Section during the Fall preseason. In the early going of the actual season, events like the Heart of California Basketball Classic, Clovis North’s Valley Children’s Tip-Off, North Bakersfield’s Lloyd Williams Shootout, and the Clovis West Nike Invitational have given me additional viewing of some freshman that I had not seen due to football or other reasons.Through these evaluations, along with feedback from knowledgeable media, coaches, and other relevant basketball personnel from the Section, I have compiled a list of the top 21 freshman prospects for this first round of player rankings for the 2027 Class. I will update these rankings at least two times a year over the next four years, as some names will be added to expand this list to 30 plus by next year at this time.
This list takes into consideration two key factors in determining where players are ranked and will be the same criteria used each time this list is updated. The criteria for these rankings are as follows: current skill level and production on the court, as well as future projection at the collegiate level. I begin the Class of 2027 rankings with Cobi Posas of Roosevelt Rough Riders at the #1 spot.
Posas is the player with the most national exposure of any player in the 2027 class in the Central Section, as he has participated in local events such as Central Cali Prospects Next Up Showcase, Central Cali Prospects Preview, and the Central Cali All-Star Middle School Showcase. Posas also took part in some elite national middle school events such as Neo Youth Elite Top 40, Pangos Junior All-American Camp, and CP3 Rising Star National Camp to name the major ones. Nevertheless, Posas has played against the top players in his respective class nationally and regionally, and has more than held his own. Posas is starting for the Rough Riders at the forward position and is the main rim protector until Clovis West transfer, senior Skylarr Redwood, is cleared to play and give Roosevelt two lengthy and athletic forwards to hold down the interior. Posas has good handles, makes good use of the wide crossover to create off the dribble, can space the floor with the 3-ball, and has a nice pull-up mid-range jumper. Posas uses his massive wingspan to alter shots in the paint, has the agility to step out and defend perimeter players, controls the boards, and has the handles to push the ball up the court. Posas has the potential to be an elite two-way wing/slasher with Division 1 build and potential.
Coming in at the #2 spot in this initial list is Jeremias Killebrew of the Bakersfield Christian Eagles. Killebrew has been a player that most have known about in the South Valley since middle school and he expanded his notoriety by playing with Matt Barnes’ squad on the Made Hoops West Circuit, which is one of the premier middle school circuits in the country. Killebrew was one of the top players in our Future Prospects Middle School Showcase a year ago and was a top 10 performer at a loaded Next Up Showcase that we hosted in late August, which hosts the top freshman and sophomores in the Central Section. Killebrew has been a staple in the starting line-up for the Eagles thus far in the preseason and, with the scoring load on the shoulders of senior Bentley Waller and junior Gabe Gutierrez, Jeremias is able to lock in on rebounds, protecting the basket, and scoring off drive and dish opportunities from the guards. Killebrew has solid handles, a smooth stroke from the perimeter, accurate with the 3-ball, and is effective when hunting the mid-range jumper. Killebrew is a versatile defender with the length and frame to hold up against bigger players, as well as the agility and footwork to stay in front of perimeter players. As his high school career plays out, he will be one of the key scorers, but also has great court vision and feel to make reads to open teammates. Kid does a little bit of everything and works hard to get better.
AJ Johnson of Central Valley Christian Cavaliers starts off at the #3 spot in this initial round of 2027 player rankings. I first saw Johnson playing for CVC in North Bakersfield’s Summer League and he dazzled, scoring 29 points and showing his ability to score the ball at a high clip, as well as make plays for others. Johnson participated in our 3rd Annual Junior/Senior Showcase hosted at CVC and he displayed his superior court vision and precision passing while surveying the floor with the ball in hand. Johnson is currently leading the Cavaliers in scoring early in his freshman campaign, going for 27 points per game and a career high of 35 points against Tulare Western. That puts Johnson in the top 15 scorers in California, a state loaded with elite shot makers and bucket getters. Johnson keeps the ball on a string, makes good use of the hesitation to keep his defender off balance, and has a smooth stroke from the perimeter with the ability to light it up from the 3-point line with range. There is a lot to like about the lead guard’s game and there have already been some comparisons drawn between his game and that of the top senior in the Section, Connor Amundsen of Clovis North. Yes, that is high praise considering what Amundsen has accomplished but the style of play has some glaring similarities.
The Clovis East Timberwolves boasted the top freshman class last season, as it had four freshmen that contributed to its roster last season. This season, the Timberwolves may not have numerous freshman standouts, but it does have two-way impact forward Asher Thompson who drops in at #4 on this list. Thompson participated in our Future Prospects Middle School Showcase and was one of the top players in that event, as well as our 3rd Annual Next Up Showcase. Thompson played on the Fresno-based EBO 14u team over the Spring and Summer that earned a spot in the Adidas Jr. Championships held in South Carolina and anchored the team on both ends in the paint. Thompson has already established himself as a utility guy that impacts the game in various ways for the Timberwolves to start the season and had his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Thompson is active on the boards, has enough handle to push the ball up the court, can space the floor with the 3-ball, and runs the floor well to make himself available in the open court. Thompson has nice touch around the basket, has good timing to protect the paint, and the court vision to make plays from the high-post or connect on the mid-range jumper. Swiss Army Knife that fills up a stat sheet.
Rounding out the top 5 is the lightning quick point guard for the St. Joseph Knights is Malcolm Price, younger brother of my top overall prospect for the 2026 class Julius Price. I first saw Price over the summer at the inaugural California Live Scholastic event held in SoCal. However, given his role at the time being limited, it wasn’t until the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp that I saw what Price was capable of doing with the ball in his hand, as he would earn a spot in the Top 60 All-Star Game. Price keeps the ball on a string, has an elite burst of speed off the dribble, has nice touch on the floater, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Price has range with the 3-ball, is accurate off the bounce or the catch and shoot, and his ability to start and stop on a dime keeps his defender guessing. Defensively, Price has active hands, quick foot speed, and turns defense to transition buckets. His role continues to expand for the Knights, as St. Joseph will need more depth in order to make a run in the state playoffs.
Zander Jensen of the Redwood Rangers comes in at the #6 spot in this initial list of 2027 player rankings. Jensen participated in out 3rd Annual Next Up Showcase back in August and was one of the top 10 performers in an event loaded with the Section’s top freshman and sophomores. Jensen has been a key piece for the Rangers to start this season off, as was evident in his 28 point and 10 rebound performance against Stockdale of Bakersfield. Jensen has solid handles, the moves to create off the dribble, has a smooth stroke on his jumper, with accuracy from the mid-range to the 3-point line. Jensen does a solid job on the glass, looks to push the ball up the court, and has the court vision to make plays with the ball in his hands. Good size and understanding of the game and plays with good pace and control.
The Bakersfield Christian Eagles have another standout freshman that has been a welcome post presence in forward/center Taiwo Daramola, who comes in at #7. Daramola is a lengthy and athletic big man that has been dominant on the boards and a true rim protector for the Eagles. Daramola has been in the core rotation for the Eagles and started most games this season. Although his skill set is raw at the moment, Daramola has nice touch around the basket, is effective with the jumper from the high-post, and plays well off the high pick and roll that the Eagles run frequently with its guard duo of Waller and Gutierrez. Daramola has great upside and with continued development on his offensive skill set, to go with his defensive prowess, he has the potential to jump up this list and push for the top spot over the next few years.
Lead guard Ethan Saenz of the North Bakersfield Stars starts off at the #8 spot. Saenz is a player that I have seen play since 7th grade and was one of the top performers at our Future Prospects Middle School Showcase last December, played very well for the Stars during Summer League, and a top 20 showing at our Next Up Showcase back in August. Saenz also played on the Made Hoops West Circuit for two seasons with the Soldiers (13u and 14u). Saenz has done a solid job running the point for the Stars and recently had an impressive showing in a win over a tough Sanger squad at North’s Lloyd Williams Shootout, as he would go for 12 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Saenz has good court vision, keeps the ball on a string, makes good use of the hesitation to create separation from his opponent, and is accurate from the perimeter. Saenz plays with good pace, control, and makes quality decisions with the ball in hand, and is a key piece for the Stars to build around over the next few years.
San Joaquin Memorial Panthers’ sharp shooter Ty Schalk makes his debut on this list at #9. Schalk has displayed his skill set as a combo guard at our Future Prospects Middle School Showcase, Prospect Preview Showcase, and the 3rd Annual Next Up Showcase and performed very well at each event. Schalk was also part of the Fresno-based EBO 14u team that made it to the Adidas Junior Championships in South Carolina over the summer and was one of its leading scorers. Schalk has taken that level of play and confidence to the varsity level and has earned a spot in the rotation on a talented Panthers team. Schalk has good handles, the moves to create off the dribble, nice touch on the floater over size, and accurate with the jumper with range on the 3-ball. Schalk moves well off the ball, gets to his shot spots, and is becoming a reliable scoring punch off the bench for San Joaquin in the early going this season. Schalk has good court vision and can run the offense, but is at his best when knocking down shots from the perimeter.
Rounding out the top of this initial list for the 2027 class is Jahlil Montgomery of the Clovis North Broncos. Montgomery participated in our Prospect Preview Showcase last May and our Next Up Showcase in late August, as well as the Pangos All-West Frosh/Soph Camp and more than held his own at each of those events, showing his ability to impact the defensive end at a high level. Montgomery has good length and active hands on the defensive end, which leads to steals and transition points the other way. Montgomery has good hands, nice touch around the basket, and can knock down the mid-range jumper effectively. He has already found his way into the back end of the Broncos rotation and is capable of defending bigger players with good length, timing, and athleticism. With continued work on his offensive skill set, to go with his defensive prowess, Montgomery could work himself into one of the better two-way players in the 2027 class and the potential to move up this list as his career progresses.
There are other players in this list that will have the potential to move into the top 10 when I revise this list after the high school season, with the 6’8” forward/center Godson Eyita of St. Joseph Knights being a key player to watch in the 2027 class. Lawrence Moore of Clovis West, Cameron Hernandez of South Bakersfield Spartans, and Luke Ramirez of Sanger are all players that I will be watching over the next year and have the potential to make moves up this list. I plan to update this list in the Spring and would like to expand this list to 30 players. There are plenty of quality freshmen in the Central Section that I have either not seen, are playing JV or Frosh/Soph, or just haven’t hit their stride yet but could be in the next round of these player rankings. Below is a full list of the top 20 freshmen in the Central Section.
|Roosevelt (Fresno CA)
|Bakersfield Christian (CA)
|Central Valley Christian (Visalia CA)
|Clovis East (CA)
|St. Joseph (Santa Maria CA)
|Redwood (Visalia CA)
|Bakersfield Christian (CA)
|North (Bakersfield CA)
|San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno CA)
|Clovis North (Fresno CA)
|St. Joseph (Santa Maria CA)
|Clovis West (Fresno CA)
|San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno CA)
|Bakersfield Christian (CA)
|South (Bakersfield CA)
|Garces Memorial (Bakersfield CA)
|Centennial (Bakersfield CA)
|Frontier (Bakersfield CA)
|Anthony Gonzalez Valdez
|Buchanan (Clovis CA)
|Stockdale (Bakersfield CA)